Lily of the valley, Convallaria majalis, is a low-growing, spreading perennial plant, bearing arching stems of bell-shaped, white flowers with a wonderful perfume. It makes good ground cover in shady spots. It’s a fantastic choice for a woodland garden or shady border, as well as planting beneath shrubs. It also makes a charming addition to a spring posy.
How to grow lily of the valley
Grow lily of the valley in moist soil in partial shade. Mulch annually with leaf mould or other organic matter, and propagate by dividing clumps in autumn.
More on growing lily of the valley:
- Shrubs that look good in April
- 20 British native wildflowers to grow
- 10 unusual perennials for shade
Find out how to grow lily of the valley in our detailed Grow Guide, below.
Where to grow lily of the valley
Grow lily of the valley in moist soil in full or partial shade.
How to plant lily of the valley
Newly planted lily of the valley will struggle to grow in cold, wet conditions. Plant into pots during March, then grow on under cover before planting out when the soil has warmed up. By mid-May you can plant lily of the valley out into your borders.
Caring for lily of the valley
Lily of the valley thrives in the right location without too much interference. Add a mulch of leaf mould around the base of the plants in autumn. Divide congested clumps every few years.
How to propagate lily of the valley
Divide clumps of lily of the valley in autumn and grow on new plants under cover over winter before planting out.
Growing lily of the valley: problem-solving
Lily of the valley plants are generally free from pests and diseases.
Lily of the valley varieties to try
- ‘Hardwick Hall’ – a cultivar with deep green, lance-shaped foliage with irregular cream-white stripes around the leaf edge. The flowers are larger than those of the standard Convallaria majalis
- ‘Albostriata’ – a variegated lily of the valley, with cream-striped leaves and cream-white flowers. Most variegated cultivars revert to plain leaves within a few years, but ‘Albostriata’ is less likely to do so. Plants don’t spread so easily, which means it’s a good choice for smaller gardens
- Convallaria majalis var. rosea – an unusual pale pink variety
- ‘Vic Pawlowski’s Gold’ – with cream-striped leaves and larger-than-average flowers